Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.

Learning Photoshop, Reasons For Quitting, And Dorkiness As Nicotine Replacement Therapy

If anyone is wondering why I haven't updated for five days, it should be painfully obvious now that you are here. I was busy learning Photoshop so that I could bring you this lovely bunch of blank, creamy squares. Blech. Bear with me, though. There are always pitfalls on the road to knowledge, and this is one of them. The graphic I had before had this grandma-by-the-seashore sort of effect minus the glued on seashells, so anything is better than that.
When the Fiery One leaves on these trips, I tend to isolate myself big time. I went out on Friday night with a couple of friends, and ever since then, I have been on my own. I know this is no feat of endurance, because there are plenty of people who do this sort of thing all the time, but I do not. I am only alone for about one hour a day, five days of the week, and that is the hour in between the time that I get home from work and when the Fiery One arrives home from his job. Since Friday night, I have had two conversations, both of which do not count as real social interaction. One was with the 7-11 guy when I told him they were running out of their nacho cheese sauce, and the second one was when I had breakfast by myself on Sunday and the waitress recognized me and complimented me on my weight loss. Both times were really awkward, because I had been spending almost every waking moment learning computer stuff, which seems to render me terribly slow to respond to any stimulus from other human beings. Luckily, my bus friend warmed me up this morning to the social interaction required of me at work, so I haven't had to embarrass myself by stuttering or blinking several times before forming speech. . . . . Shit, I spoke too soon. I was just speaking to a customer, and I managed to squeak out "No, be a nerd. Being a nerd is good." Ouch. I think I should keep my work-speak to simple can-I-help-you and do-you-need-a-bag questions.

I haven't had a cigarette since Friday, and I am still doing alright. I tried quitting three times over this last winter, and each time lasted for seven days before my addicted brain managed to convince me that the pain of quitting is bullshit. Each time I quit, I have a different focus reason for trying to break the habit, but no reason is enough by itself. In the end, all arguments are flimsy compared with my drive to smoke, and at the seven-day mark I think A-ha! A whole week I've made it, and then I pull out a cigarette, light it up, and half-heartedly think Oh, well. Better luck next time. After having gone through this several times now, it is becoming tiresome. My health, my money, and my confidence in my own will are more important than some fucking chemical soaked, dried out, shredded plant rolled in paper that I light on fire and suck through fibreglass.
There are several factors at play that are driving to me to try quitting again:

  • Number One: I am too old for this. With every year I age, the cool factor of smoking plummets. All I have to look forward to is looking dirty and old when I do it. I once believed it helped me look more worldly and mature, but now I know it will only make me look more world-weary and wrinkly. I'm hanging on to what youthful good looks I have left here!
  • Number Two: I have reached the apex of civilian smoking knowledge - from french inhaling to fixing broken cigarettes so they look like new. There is almost no new territory for me to cover. I am even a seasoned hand-roller. I've become the Job of the smoking world. There is nothing new under the sun.
  • Number Three: I can't stop remembering that tongue problem I had a while back. That was a really scary experience. I mean, it's my mouth. I was thrilled that it turned out to be merely a blood blister, but cancer, that would have been too much. If there is any place in my body that I can't handle the idea of going cancerous, it's my mouth. It's wet, it's moist, and it's in my face. Ew. I have become more and more paranoid about it ever since the blister incident. Couple that with bus stop poster showing the blown up image of a mouth disfigured with cancer that I see every day on my way back from work, and I am one pretty grossed out puppy.
  • Number Four: Smoking is really expensive. Here in Saskatchewan, it's up to just under twelve dollars for a pack of twenty-five (that's about $8.90 US). I am not sure exactly how many packs I smoke in a week, but I figure that I must be spending about $95 a month, which is stupid when I am always going on about how broke I am.
  • Number Five: My lungs never feel healthy any more. I am always suffering congestion to some degree, and I'm sick of it. If I don't quit now, what am I going to feel like in ten, twenty, or thirty years?
  • Number Six: I hate giving over as much money as I do to the tobacco industry every year. I don't agree with the industry, its tactics, its effect on society, or that it is an industry that our governments make money on through heavy taxation. The whole business is nasty, and that I choose to continue to support it regularly is a bit shameful.
  • Number Seven: I want my full range of taste and smell back. I miss it. It's spring, and aside from the smell after a spring rain, I have missed all of the subtler odours that I know must be out there. I miss flavour explosions in my mouth that aren't due to the huge amount of salt I must pour over everything so I can taste it.
  • Number Eight: Did you know that I don't seem to hear as well as I used to? Yep, smoking can affect your hearing, because your ears are connected to that whole nose and throat thing. Everything is slightly muffled, and I hate it. Self-induced hearing loss is not cool.
  • Number Nine: Smoking can cause back problems, because nicotine ingestion will cause thinning of the fluid between the discs in your back. I don't have the greatest back. It's not terrible, but it always feels out of place somewhere. This, I am also tired of. If not smoking means my back will be a little happier, then I am all for it.
  • Number Ten: I smell. Yuck. I complain about other people's perfumes or body odour, but what must I smell like?
  • Number Eleven: My teeth are slowly but surely turning piss yellow. Double yuck. I can use all the bleaching kits I want to, but every cigarette I smoke just works against me. Also, smokers are much more likely to have problems like gum disease, and I do suffer the gum sensitivity lately.
  • Number Twelve: Laili-6 was right. We had a short chat about smoking on Friday night. She has been quit for about three-and-a-half months now. I don't know what it was she said about smoking and smokers, but it struck a chord with me. Laili-6, you were the last hammer. Thanks.
    I have even more reasons, too. I want to grow old with the Fiery One and enjoy it, doctors have found nicotine deposits on the cervixes of women who smoke and those who work in smoky environments, I value myself more than my addiction, etc. Today is Day Five, and I'm doing alright. If I feel a strong urge to leave the house to "socialize" (addicted brain-speak for "find cigarettes"), I will run myself a hot bath and crawl in. It is much harder to leave the house to smoke when you are wet and naked and being lulled by a steaming tub of hot water. Wish me luck.

    Today is so slow at work, and all I really want to do is run home and figure out how to slice properly in Photoshop. I think this is my new self-imposed project is my smoking replacement. Because this not smoking thing is getting really hard. At Day Five, I am wishing that the physical benefits rushed in fast and hard rather than slowly coming in dribs and drabs, because my addicted brain is starting to hammer at me to give up, who wants to get old, enjoy life, don't make things hard for yourself. Nasty fucker, that brain o' mine.
    I'm hoping the Photoshop-learning does the trick to keep me smoke free, and it probably will, at least today, because the top of this page is really bugging me. I managed to get the graphic mostly right, but I couldn't get the links working at all last night. Finally, just before I had to go to bed, I managed to get the links and the graphic working - at home. I opened my site at work this morning to double-check that it really was up and working, and it turns out that I chose a file path name that does not translate to any other computer but the one I have at home. I have figured out how to fix this snare, but it will be several hours before I can get home to do it. Fiddlesticks. See? So much of nothing has been happening at work, that I have managed to trouble-shoot my website problems and type nearly 1700 words.
    I've become such a computer nerd. I am actually really excited about going home after work, brewing a pot of coffee, and hacking away at html code and Photoshop until my eyes look like cherry tomatoes. I promised myself that I would have something decent-looking by my one hundredth entry, and dammit, I will! For this entry, you will have to face the blank squares at the top of the screen, but come the grand unveiling of my one hundredth entry, you will be greeted with the best of my creations to date.
    I don't know how pleased I am that dorkiness is taking the place of my cigarette habit. I mean, anything that doesn't lend to me developing malignant tumours is a plus right now, but why couldn't the replacement be a revitalized fashion sense or writing the great Canadian novel or globetrotting?

    This guy is looking pretty spiffy.

  • One Hundred Things In A List In No Apparent Order

    Old, Ten Good Things About Fridays, And Sexual Deprogramming